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Dateline NBC

News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)

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NBC

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01:01:00

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TV-MA

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San Francisco, CA, USA

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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1920

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1080

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 13, Sandowskis 3, California 3, Penélope Cruz 2, Beverly 2, Lester Holt 2, Nespresso 2, Cappuccino 2, Saddleback 1, Bed 1, Tim Sandowski 1, Cinnabon 1, Woah 1, Atchya 1, Transam 1, Starbucks 1, Shavelle 1, Zblal 1, Boulder 1, Riverside 1,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz,  
   Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)  

    December 8, 2013
    10:00 - 11:01pm PST  

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like so many of us, had worked hard to make the american dream come true for their kids. then the unthinkable. >> it is just killing me. >> slammed by the recession. they lived what so many fear. watching their income disappear. >> i feel like a failure. >> the economy may have improved but millions are still dealing with the fallout. tonight one family lets you in to see what most wouldn't. the emotional struggle to save their home from foreclosure. >> she still trying to get us our last-minute stay, like an execution. >> reporter: trying to keep it together for the kids. while their own relationship unravels. >> i will get personal with it.
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my wife told me -- divorce. >> capturing one family's four-year struggle. a kind of intimacy rarely seen. >> i feel like i let my kids down. >> will they make it? >> this was a breakthrough i was praying for. thanks for joining us. i'm lester holt. we begin as we often do by meeting a family about to face something they never saw coming. something beyond their control. there are secrets to be revealed and a mystery. what exactly will happen? this story sbnt a crime. it is about a crisis. the kind that many of us may face in our lives and millions already have. and because of that, in its own way, it just may be as dramatic as any story we have done. >> my name is tim. i just want to welcome you to our house and explain what's going with our family so you can get a better idea of the
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struggles we are going through. >> it is 2009. "dateline's" cameras roll on the family for first time. on the surface everything seems fine. >> that's my son, owen. owen is 11 years old. >> hi. >> tim's other son is noah. here at 9 years old. >> this is my wife. >> hi. >> they have lived in this power-bedroom house for more than 11 years. it is nestled in a beautiful cul-de-sac in upscale orange county, california. it is the only home that the boys have ever known. but now they are in danger of losing it to the bank. >> we don't want to lose our home. we love it. we love this neighborhood. my kids went to the same school their whole lives. >> their story may sound familiar even though of a great recession ended back in 2009, more than a million american families are still fighting to save their homes.
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but what's gotten almost no attention is the effect foreclosures and the financial crisis have had on american families. tonight you will see that up close. for four years our cameras have been with the sandowskis as they struggle with not only money but their marriage. in the end, they discover the true cost of fighting to save their home. when they bought this house back in 1998, their marriage was strong and so were their finances. tim owned his own business. they had no problem coming up with a 20% down payment. almost $65,000. >> was it fair to call this a dream house? >> yes. >> everything was awesome. the neighbors were great. they were excited. they had young families. we had young families. everything i envisioned of a true maybe hood. >> those were the good days. having big birthday parties. >> big parties.
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>> pool parties. all the neighbors would come over. good time. >> how did things change when the boys came around? >> the responsibility got larger. i had to work harder. my primary focus was providing for my family. it made me feel good i could be out away from home and my wife was home taking care of our two boy. >> what was your business? what did you do? >> interior construction. framing, drywall, pain. >> this is around a time southern california was booming. how busy were you? >> i was running anywhere from 15 to 17 projects at one time. i would have collectively anywhere from 45 to 60 guys on job sites spread out on the 15, 17 project. >> tim was a self-made man. both he and his wife had grown up with very little money. >> i started working at age 15 because if i wanted anything i needed to pay for it myself. >> after high school, she worked as a flight attendant and later in real estate. she graduated from college.
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in 2001, they were living the american dream. tim was making about $160,000 a year. and the soundowskis started spending. >> this is what i'm talking about. >> yeah. >> they refinanced their mortgage a few times. taking out more than $100,000. >> fire pit there. gas fire pit there. >> they used the money to make investments and home improvements like an outdoor kitchen and a custom-made pool and adding value to their home. >> all natural boulder brought in because my pool builder wanted to build the artificial ro rock. i wanted the real. >> by 2004 their house almost tripled in value. estimated at more than $800,000. they drove expensive vehicles and had an rv, motorcycles and classic cars that tim would restore. >> 78 transam, 'coup shavelle.
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i bought motorcycles for the boys. won't. we would go out to the desert a lot, me and may family. that was my enjoyment. >> if someone were to look at your finances would they have said this couple is being irresponsible? >> at that time a financial analyst probably would have said you are irresponsible but the friends we were hanging out w h with, we were just part of the crowd. >> even so, tim was more responsible than many. >> money put away in savings. if anything happened, if i had enough money to last us a year to pay the bills. >> about $80,000 in savings. little did had know that they were living in the calm before an unpredicted super storm. the great recession was headed their way and their area, southern california, would take a direct hit. for the sandowskis it would be
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personal. her mom was about to find herself caught up in the deepening crisis. >> i want to keep my home! i have been here 27 years. [ male announcer ] some things are simply better at home. like the enticing aroma and distinctive taste of nespresso. elegant capsules meet masterfully crafted machines, and one touch creates the perfect coffee, cappuccino, and latte. ♪
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tempt all your senses with one extraordinary coffee. [ penélope cruz ] nespresso. what else? [ male announcer ] discover the world of nespresso on grant avenue and nespresso-us.com.
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was this an excessive lifestyle? >> i don't really think so. my husband made good money. >> he deserved it the pool the outdoor barbecue? >> yeah. he worked hard for it.
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i worked hard. no, i don't think it was excess. >> for this family the initial signs that life was about to change were subtle. tim's construction business fell first. >> the recession started hiding our industry in the first quarter of 2007. at that point i started see thing isn't getting better for months and progressively got worse. >> since business was drying up tim had to let workers go. >> when i had to lay workers off that helped start my business, it hurt into. deep inglide were you losing sleep over this? >> yes. >> that's an understatement. i would be up at 2:00, sleep for an hour down here, go to work. there wasn't any work. looking for work. >> as the months went by and still no construction projects, tim was willing to take just about any job. >> i applied over 100 jobs when things started to slow down online and tried on get interviews to get out of construction. >> had cut back their spending.
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but a year after tim's business had all but stopped. the $80,000 they set aside had run out. >> we went through our savings just trying to make our mortgages, trying to pay the insurance. >> she got a job working part time as a lunch aid supervisor at her kids' school. they also turned to family and friends for help. >> we borrowed a lot of money which i absolutely hate. but we just keep thinking it is going to get better. it is going to get better. >> they scramble to generate money, trying to sell the toys that had once given tim so much pleasure. >> i sold one of my classic cars. another classic car for sale that nobody wants to purchase it. >> the bills were piling up. there wasn't muff money to pay them. >> we don't own anything anymore. we had an rv. that was repossessed. i had a mercedes that we couldn't pay on anymore and that was repossess. >> with the construction indoes and standstill tim had doing he
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never imagined. close his office and shatter his business. when the company closed the family could no longer afford health insurance. at this point tim was desperate. >> when we started to really struggle, i started using a lot of credit cards. >> through it all, they hoped their home would be their safety net. but it could no longer hold the weight of their debt. the sandowskis' house went into foreclosure. >> this is paperwork i generated to save our house since may of 2008. >> tim tried desperately to convince the bank to modify his mortgage. lower the monthly payments by making the term of the loan longer. >> over the last nine months i have been trying to modify my loan. every single time i got a -- letter back that we don't qualify for a modification. resubmit paperwork again. >> the sandowski story is echoed in the millions of americans. >> jacob, political science
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professor at yale university, studied the impact of a great recession on families. >> the numbers are zstaggering. 6.6 foreclosures between 2007 and 2010. >> it is not like they could move in with family. her mother, beverly, who lives 25 miles away was also trying to save her house. it had been in foreclosure for a year and a half. >> i saw this tape out there with paperwork. gist thought, what's going on? that's when i noticed -- notice of a trustee zblal we were there when the bank notified her house would be auctioned off in a month. >> i have days, days. as far as what do you mean as far as -- as far as stopping this. i want to keep my home. >> her husband, who repaired computers, lost most of his
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business during the recession. making it impossible for them to pay their mortgage. >> i can't keep doing this. >> is there a case of denial? this home is a symbol of your success that you don't want to let go when the evidence is saying maybe you should. >> you know, for most americans, their home is their major asset. it is f your house goes into your foreclosure your credit card rate sing ruined and you don't think you will be able to get another house. you are not -- it is not so much you are denying it, you are hoping against hope you can work it out. >> so why didn't they just sell their houses? well, it wasn't so easy. each had a mortgage that was under water, meaning they owed more than their house was worth. for the sandowskis about $90,000 more. the value of their plummeted you about $300,000. >> i can't sleep at night. i don't want to lose my house. i don't know where we would go. >> for noah and won't no more backyard pool parties and their
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expensive dirt bikes and four-wheelers were sold. >> you guys are okay? >> yeah. >> yeah. we don't need to live off tons of stuff. we just -- a few things here and there would make us happy. >> that's a good attitude. you know, a lot of kids in your situation would maybe be feeling sorry for themselves. >> i don't really feel sorry for myself. i feel like more sorry for my parents because they don't have as much time to spend together. >> i thought you were going to feed them. >> when their parents were together, they were often bickering. the financial crisis had already taken so much from this family. >> we argue a lot because of the finances. >> and now it was threatening to claim something more important than all of that. their marriage. >> i will get person am. my wife told me p august she wanted a divorce.
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good morning nelly! woah. hey! have you ever tried honey nut cheerios? love 'em. neat! now you on the other hand... you need some help. why? look atchya. what is that? you mean my honey wand? [ shouting ] [ splat ] come on. matter of fact. [ rustling ] shirt. shoes. shades. ah! wow! now that voice... my voice? [ auto-tuned ] what's wrong with my voice? yeah man, bee got swag! be happy! be healthy! that's gotta go too. ♪ hey! must be the honey! [ sparkle ] sweet.
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nervous. i have been depressed about two years now. >> by 2009 this once well-off family was sinking into poverty. tim sandowski had gone from earning from about $15,000 a month to less than $3,000.
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>> i said we are done spending. >> the financial loss was impacting their family. they tried to remain optimistic for their children. >> boys. oh. hello. >> but behind the smiles, noah and owen knew their parents were suffering. >> was your mom happy? >> no. >> why? >> because. never happy. >> you never seem happy. >> i know. i'm trying. how come i'm not happy? do you know? >> no. >> just not happy. >> okay. what about dad? is he happy? >> no, never. >> he's always crabby. >> they felt they had so little to be happy about. not only were they in fear of losing their house, like so many other couples going through financial struggles, their marriage was also in trouble. >> we saw a marriage counselor several times. and it is -- it has been really
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rough. it still is. >> money really is the issue. >> huge. number one. >> adding to the household tension, tim, who had been out of work for more than a year, was around a lot trying to make himself useful. >> don't make breakfast again! before he was never home to make breakfast. now he makes breakfast every morning and it is driving me crazy. >> sit almost ready? >> it is ready now. >> we argue a lot. we blame each other. enshouldn't because it is not his fault. he was one of the hardest working men i know. he has been such a wonderful provider for 14 years of marriage. within the last two years, it hasn't been that way. i shouldn't blame him but i do. >> she started looking for a way out. she no longer wore her wedding ring. >> i will get person am. my wife told me in august she wanted a divorce. >> with their marriage on the edge and their finances in a
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nose dive, they thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. but more than a year after "dateline's" cameras began following them in late october, 2010, in a flash, their desperate situation became dire. >> that day we had been seeing the counselor at our church. i told tim the night before i just didn't think that the counseling was working and that i just didn't want to continue. >> supposed to have a job start friday. and when the contractor called me, he said we are postponing it for another week. i couldn't stand being around this atmosphere for another week without any work. so i jumped on the motorcycle and took off on my little trip. >> tim said he was feeling distracted, worried about his finances and the future of his marriage. while riding on unfamiliar road, he turned a corner and was blinded by the high beams of an oncoming car. >> i tried to bend the motorcycle to steer it over to
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the right. next thing i know, i'm laying down on a street face-up looking up at the sky. >> he has slammed into the windshield of the upcoming car. >> i knew it was bad. i prayed right there for god to take me. it was probably the worst thing in my life. ligaments in me knee, fractured the socket, pelvis area. i fell in and out of consciousness but what i do recall from some of the conversation is that they are possibly am few tating my leg. that night. >> his foot had been severed and pelvis broken. if that wasn't terrifying muff, remember, he had no health insurance. >> he needed an operation. no hospital would take him because we didn't have insurance. so he was laying in the intensive care with a broken pelvis for days. i was calling every hospital begging them, please take us. finally, riverside county did take us.
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>> for once, good news. since they were completely broke, they qualified for california's state health care. most of tim's medical bills were covered. >> are we ready? >> hold on. >> the doctors were able to reattach tim's severed foot but there was no guarantee he would ever walk again. >> how were you worried. >> i was really worried. i thought he wouldn't survive. >> really? >> i thought he might die in the hospital which he almost did. >> we need to pray for everybody. >> amen. >> two months post-accident, christmas 2010, the sandowskis reached a new low. no more extravagant presents. just a few gifts bought with money given to them by family. >> how nice. >> and tim looking helpless, unable to move from his hospital b bed. >> to be laid up in a hospital,
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bed, cane move, it is very difficult. >> thanks, mom. >> they found it all so humiliating, the family that had once been living the american dream now unable to buy even small presents for their children and it got worse. so bad, they say, they had to turn to the government in order to put food on the table. >> about $668 a month on food stamps. a cash aid of $762. >> lot of people calling it welfare. >> yes. >> what's it like to go to the grocery store a -- >> embarrass. >> and lay down food stamp. >> it is embarrassing but i had to do what i had to do. we did not have enough money to buy food. >> i think the face of welfare change. >> 48 million americans are receiving food stamps. >> that's a huge increase since before the downtu. it is driven by the pack we have seen so many people thrown out
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of work or seen their incomes declined. >> while the sandowskis reel from their cascading money problems, tim's accident turned out to be a blessing in disguise. >> i fell in love with my wife again. >> for the kids, though, all the uncertainties started to take a toll. as they plied their parents with anxious questions. >> are we going to be able to keep our house? are you going stay together? >> what kind of answers do you get?
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in the midst of all the heartache surrounding the sandowskis, a blessing. while tim was lying in his hospital bed, the couple's dying marriage took on new life. >> first time i see her cry, second time with tears in her eyes telling her i love and you i'm going the take care of everything. at that point i gave -- i thanked god. i felt like this was breakthrough in our relationship that i was hoping and praying for. >> i think how greats that tim survived this accident. we will take him any way we can have. >> we were there to see the transformation from disgruntled wife to devoted nurse. >> okay. we will get you some blankets and load you up. do you want a pillow here?
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>> with no money to hire help and tim confined to a hospital bed she tended to his every ned. from feeding him to cleaning him. >> it is very humbling. but also sad for me. i have never been on the receiving side before. i believe it was, you know, fate that made this come full circle. i fell in love with my wife again. i told her, when i'm to be able get on my pete and take care of you again, i will. >> by 2011, his marriage appeared to be on the upswing. now they needed to figure out how to save their house. they hadn't made a mortgage payment in more than a year. their foreclosure notices had turned into threatening auction notices. >> i'm in this bed thinking they are going the come, foreclosure on our house and the sheriff's have to wheel me out in my bed. you know, pack all of our house up and move it to where? i don't have a place to go. i immediate to keep this house. >> she stepped in and took over the finances and began
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negotiating with the bank. >> that's good. >> i spoke to someone at wells fargo. her name was adrian. >> she pleaded with the bank. sharing all of the details of tim's accident. and managed to get a reprieve. the foreclosure process was stopped and for three months they would not have to make a mortgage payment. >> i was thrilled to hear that because that's what i was hoping for. >> that good news came several months after tim's accident. he was improving but three months was not a lot of time. >> try to go to sleep. >> this really hurt. it breaks my heart. >> we are going to make that call to the bank. >> beverly, her mom, was in even greater jeopardy of losing her house. it was scheduled to be auctioned off in eight days. >> time is tickation way. it is 18th. sale day the 26th. >> she explained to the bank her husband landed new business and
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she rented out a room in her house. >> repeat that. he said it so fast, my heart is skipping a beat. what did you say? >> it would prove to be enough to convince the bank to modify their loan and save their house. >> i'm hoping everything is in order now. it has been a long haul. >> beverly knew she was one of the lucky ones. and she hoped her luck might rub off on her daughter and son-in-law. >> this is a workout. it is -- it is hard. i'm huffing and puffing. >> tim was now able to get around using crutches and creshelle was confident they were headed in the right direction. >> i'm going to go back to work. so we will be able to afford our home. >> as tim's health i am proved, so did the mood around the house. they even found humor in their disastrous finances. >> can take me and christian to the factory. >> i will have to get a card and
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put money in it. >> we can put an iou. >> while tim and creshelle were able to laugh once and a while, they were acutely aware their reprieve was quick lynning out. as three months became two and became one, finding a job was their primary focus. with tim's injury, it wouldn't be easy. >> what's the prognosis of your leg and foot? >> my foot doesn't work. i have to wear this boot to walk in and my foot just will dane. >> have you really no control? >> no control of the foot. correct. lit just flop like this. >> but you are not going to lose it. >> i don't know yet. >> okay. >> he was physically disabled, on top of that, without a college degree, his job prospects were extremely limited. a dismal job market. >> is there plan b? >> there is always a plan b.
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i can do a lot of other things. i managed big crews before. i negotiated contracts. completed payroll. i can do more than physically working with my hands. >> right here i submitted to the account manager. >> but month one was giving him that chance. for project manager positions to starbucks. >> i sent out maybe over is 00 to 150 online applications. very few responses. when they do respond they state the position has been filled. >> the in the meantime tim was able to do odd jobs. working for friends or neighbors. but his foot was so painful that he could only work a few hours at a time. >> there's always pain associated when i'm doing physical -- when i'm laying in bed and totally calm the pain goes away after a while. >> creshelle was also doing odd jobs like watching the neighbor's dogs. >> your dogs are easy.
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i feel bad taking them but i take it for cash. >> and still looking for full-time work. but without a college degree, hers are my wasn't attracting much attention either. >> i mean, i probably put at least in 100 applications. one interview so far and so far i didn't get the job. it is tough out there. >> they both acknowledge they can't believe they have been out of work as long as they have been out. >> when the economy is depressed and when there is not much demand for workers, the people who lose their jobs at the beginning of the recession are the ones that have the hardest time getting back in. once you are out of work for a while, employers start to question why you are not working and your skills are atrophying. >> their sons spectators to the struggles worry about their future. >> i do ask them questions. >> what do you say? >> like, are we going to be able to keep our house? are you going to stay together?
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are we going to move? or no? >> what kind of answers do you get? >> sometimes they say yes, we are going to be able to keep the house. we are all going to stay together and we are not going to move. i don't think that's going to happen. i think something is going to change. >> what seemed obvious to the boys was only beginning to dawn on their parents. but three months -- the three-month brace period from the bank was coming to an end. what will they do next? >> still hard to sleep at nice because even though we are in a moratorium we are still going to owe them money. >> but the sandowskis were about to get a bit of a break. >> are you happy? >> i'm relieved. >> but later, creshelle gets stunning news. >> i'm scared. i immediate to go tell my husband. i love watching tv outside. and why can you move the tv out here? the wireless receiver. i got that when i switched to u-verse. but why? because it's so much better than cable. it's got more hd channels, more dvr space. yeah, but i mean, how did you know?
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i researched. no, i-i told you. no. yeah! no. the important part is that you're happy now. and i got you this visor. you made a visor! yes! that i'll never wear. ohh. [ male announcer ] get u-verse tv for just $19 a month for two years with qualifying bundles. rethink possible. with qu♪ ifying bundles. hey, that's the last crescent! oh, did you want it? yeah. we'll split it. [ female announcer ] made fresh, so light, buttery and flakey. that's half. that's not half! guys, i have more. thanks, mom. [ female announcer ] do you have enough pillsbury crescents? guys... [ female announcer ] pillsbury cinnamon rolls, with cinnabon cinnamon, are an irresistible sunday morning idea. nothing calls them to the table faster. make breakfast pop!
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nothing calls them to the table faster. children can learn from anyone. that's true, but it takes exceptional talent to capture a student's curiosity. and inspire them to pursue their dreams. so be a teacher. our nation's future depends upon it... the more you know. during the first couple of years, following the sandowskis, we have seen their marriage transformed from shaky to hopeful. >> i have not had this on for how long? this is my wedding ring i haven't worn in several years. i decided i'm going start wearing it again. felt right. i'm going to try.
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>> but keeping their marriage solid wasn't easy. looming question of how to save their house. >> we are going to saddleback church for a counsel session for tim and i. >> despite their best efforts, as the auction deadline approached noshgsz job, no money, the financial stress seeped back into their marriage. >> you are ruining our dinner. >> we are waiting for you. we have been waiting for you. >> i washed my hands. i'm getting drinks. >> we are waiting for you. >> now that tim was able to take care of himself, creshelle grew resentful and had a reason. there was something about tim's accident that had been gnawing at her ever since she got that call from the hospital. >> they said your husband has been in a motorcycle accident. and i said, well, his motorcycle is here. i don't understand.
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he is at work. he had two motorcycles. he had a motorcycle i didn't know about. >> the harley you had hidden from her. >> correct. >> where? >> that was at a storage shop i had. >> because i would have said get rid of. >> it get rid of it for money. >> yes. >> she started to threaten file for divorce. >> tim got prepared. >> he secretly shows us the documents. ready in case she ever decided to go with it. >> i don't want a divorce. but my wife told me she wants a divorce. and then she tells me she doesn't. a week late sheer wants a divorce and next week she doesn't. not knowing, again, i know i'm telling her i want to keep the family together. but this is my other option right here. >> creshelle continued to walk along the divorce decision. mostly because of her boys.
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>> i don't want to break our family up. i don't believe in that. i don't want do that to my children. money isn't going to fix that i know that. all it is going to do is maybe give us a night of go to the movies and enjoy each other. we have no fun anymore. >> is there still some love? i mean -- >> a little. you are going to force it out of me. yes. i love him. i love him. she a wonderful father, a great husband. he is a good person. >> but would that little bit of remaining love be muff to carry them through what was about to happen? >> now it looks like we have a new sell date. the mortgage reprieve was over. the bank september them a notice with an exact date their house would be sold at auction. >> her going to proceed forward with the sell date tomorrow at 12:00 soon it looked as if their battle with the bank was fine loifr.
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-- finally over. out desperation they called a company whose representative claimed that he could stop home auctions. >> he is still trying get us our last-minute stay. like an execution, i feel like. so we are going to the courthouse right now to find out if we got the last-minute save of the house. so far we haven't heard anything. as far as i know, it is going to be auctioned off. then i don't know. do we have to move tomorrow? >> we were there at the courthouse when they got a call. >> how do you know? >> they don't know how it happened but the service they hired was able to postpone the auction for two more months. >> are you happy? >> i'm relieved. i'm not going to celebrate. it is not over yet. >> i'm happy right now. >> it is a big relief we can stay the next two months.
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>> how much longer can you stave off the actual foreclosure? >> when you have -- have you no money to go out and rent another place for your family, you have to do what -- you have to stave it off as long as you can. >> one month before the deadline, reality finally sank in. the latest battle to save their house had again damaged their marriage. tim's once thriving business was gone. unlikely to ever reopen. all their expensive possessions sold or repossessed. despite years of hunting, no job offers for either of them. >> thank you very much. that's small. >> so as the holidays approached and another year was coming to a close, the sandowskis finally decided to give up the fight. christmas 2011 would be the last one they would spend here. >> mixed meetings. very mix. >> they would try to short sell their house. leaving behind all of the money this i had invested in it.
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>> pretty much came down to lose to foreclosure, we immediate too try to short sell. >> it short sale is when the bank agrees to let you sell your home for less than the amount is owed on the mortgage. essentially the bank will eat that cost. what it means for the sandowskis is two things. one is all their equity they ever thought they had is gone. they walk away with absolutely nothing. second, a short sale is a very negative point on your credit card report. >> thank you very much. >> it is not as bad as losing your home altogether but it is very bad. up to 200 to 300 points taken off of your credit report. >> even with their whole world about to change, these resilient boys found joy in the little things. >> thanks, mom. >> the past few years we haven't been getting much. i'm just like thankful we are getting a few things. tides me over for a while. >> less than a month after they put their house on the market,
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they had a buyer. >> i just got off the phone with the real estate agent. she inform immediate the sbang accepting a sales price and i'm running out of time. i'm scared. i immediate to go tell my husband and tell him we really need to find a place to live and start packing. >> the sandowskis, who who have been on a wrenching journey, were about to face their most emotional journey yet. >> i feel like i let my kids down. >> as these parents contemplate the future -- >> i want to start being happy again. >> they were finally force informed make the hardest decision of all. informed make the hardest de[ male announcer ] some things are simply better at home. like the enticing aroma and distinctive taste of nespresso.
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elegant capsules meet masterfully crafted machines, and one touch creates the perfect coffee, cappuccino, and latte. ♪ tempt all your senses with one extraordinary coffee. [ penélope cruz ] nespresso. what else? [ male announcer ] discover the world of nespresso on grant avenue and nespresso-us.com.
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. early 2012, the sandowskis were making plans to leave the house they loved. >> will is a certain amount of relief that i feel now that we decided to move forward with the short sale and not save our house. >> that relief came too late after all of that talk of a split. she finally went to see a divorce lawyer. >> i wanted to just talk to someone about getting some
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advice on either a legal separation or possibly a divorce. >> none of this was a surprise to tim. >> she doesn't know what she wants. now that we are losing the actual house, she looks at it as good time on split and go our spray ways. this has been going on for such a long time maybe it is time for us to go our separate ways. it is not an easy choice because of my children. >> they had lost so much and tried so many times to make their marriage work. now they both wanted to start fresh and separating felt right for both of them. >> we sat down last night with the kids and we told them that, you know, we love you. it is nothing that you guys did. you know, mom and dad just grew apart and we don't love each other like we used to. we are going to break up. >> after they heard it they went outside and started playing basketball together. they are usually fighting, 14, 12. constantly getting on each other's nerves. this is one of the rare times i
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saw them get up together and go out and play basketball together. >> they needed money to move. a moment symbolic of all their loss, creshelle went to a jewelry store to pawn her wedding ring. >> even though my husband and i are separate thing ring is still very important to me. 18 years of marriage and a lot of those were good years. i will get it back. >> here is your money. $2,500. >> thank you. >> i hope it helps. >> it will. i'm using it to move and start a new life. i'm going to miss the four of us. tim and my kids. all of us laughing together. saying silly things and laughing.
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>> they began the transition to their new life. >> did you sell everything while i was gone? >> yes. >> holding a garage sale to sell off the last remaineders of better days. >> it is very sad. very, very sad. my dining room table over here, i have had this for as long as we lived here. it is hard to get rid of it. i moon, i know it is just a table but just kind of -- it hurts. >> soon it was moving day. as they packed the final boxes -- >> i remember that. >> do you? >> they were flooded with memories. >> that's me on my motorcycle before my accident. >> we had been here 14 years and we loved our home. one of the best communities. our home is a beautiful,
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wonderful home. it is just time to let go. we are going to take our memories with us. that's the most important thing. >> picture of my two boys last year. i will keep that on my desk, close to my heart. >> it actually hurts my heart to see how cute my kids were and now they are big and those times are over and i will never have them back again. >> this is the house, the house they were raised here. go our separate ways, it is very difficult. they certainly are sad. >> help with that desk. >> i feel like i let my kids down. >> pick it up.
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>> i feel like a failure. >> when we began this journey with the sandowskis more than four years ago, no one imagined it would end this way. their home gone. their marriage over. and both tim and creshelle still looking for work. but still optimistic. >> i don't know what's out there yet. i'm not sure what door i need to open to find what i'm looking for. but there are -- there's going to be new opportunities for me out there. it has been sad for a long time now. i want to start being happy again. >> this is kind of where we all live. >> the sandowskis could only afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment. even though they are divorced they all live here. >> small here living with four people. we fight a lot. not fight but it is like --
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tight. >> they fight. >> to ease the tension, creshelle sometimes stay was her sister. >> occasionally we are here at the same time. he sleeps on the couch and i sleep here. >> we fight when it is about money. we agree on how to raise our children. we get along very well. >> once the crushing weight of saving their house was gone, the sandowskis had a new outlook. they both have simpler dreams for their futures. a decent place to live and, of course, a dependable job with a solid income. >> you know what, things are built by happiness. it is true. i don't have any money right now. i'm very happy. so i learned you can be happy without money. >> just got keep thinking about being positive and that everything is going to change for the better.
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>> that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. right now, at 11ing, temperatures are dropping. what may be the coldest night of the season. plus, more on the return of a palo alto war veteran who was held in knot korea for more than a month. why he might have beenry leased. and how much would you pay for this burned out house in the south bay? you might be surprised by the asking price. >> 50 good evening. thanks for joining us. outside your door right now it's gold. and it's going to be even colder tomorrow morning. these are live pictures. it's forecast to be one of the co